The digital images I have presented I call BODYSCAPES, that is, landscapes of the human body and it's social condition.
With post modernist ececticism these BODYSCAPES are created in the computer through a process whereby photographic images of the human body, either sourced and collaged from the public domain, or photographed by the artist, are transformed into a simulated landscape that is richly varied in form and texture, in essence a virtual 3D matrix populated with simulated organic forms which in part are influenced by Bill Brandt's enigmatic figures in the landscape and Man Ray's experiments with light and form.
These landscapes of the body, while synthetic, deliberately remind the viewer of forms and textures from the natural world but at the same time confound with unexpected surrealism prompting questions like, where is the light coming from? Is it a body part or a rock form?
So BODYSCAPES are about landscapes in and of the body, this concerns both form and meaning encompassing social politics as well as politics of the body. In other words I present both the microcosm of the human body as well as the macrocosm of humanity, its strengths, weaknesses, beauty and ugliness.
My images can be confronting, I see them as a social realism.
Secrets, In the Name Of, Behind Bamboo, Envy, Texas Tea and other images from my previous exhibitions* probe the human condition but it is in the eye of the beholder where the meanings are to be found, they are different for each person who views my work. At one exhibition two women, friends of the same age viewed the same work, Waiting for Nesara, one saw life and birth the other saw death and decay.
Sometimes deliberately wrapped in ambiguity, there are many layers of meaning that might be imbued by the viewer. I invite you to use your imagination.
* italics denotes titles of images in 2003 and 2005 exhibitions.
Neil Howe was born in 1951 in Melbourne, Australia. He first studied Biology at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and was awarded a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in 1973 with a triple major in Biochemistry, Zoology and Botany. For a number of years he was employed as a research officer at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Division of Protein Chemistry and later the Neurochemistry Department of Monash University working on Influenza and Muscular Dystrophy research projects. In 1977 Neil Howe left the world of science to study visual art and entered Prahran College of Advanced Education (now Victorian College of the Arts) to study sculpture under John Davis and David Wilson, photography under Athol Shmith and film under Paul Cox. He was awarded a Diploma of Art & Design in 1980 and won the Powell Street Gallery sculpture prize as top sculpture student of that year.
While still a student, Howe first began to exhibit painting and sculpture in various art competitions like the Corio art prize and the Tina Wentcher Sculpture Prize. Howe is also a self taught musician and owning several electronic music synthesizers was invited to join an avant garde music group called The Composers Collective with Ken Guntar, Greg Riddell, and Ash Wednesday. Bringing to the group a visual art perspective, the Composers Collective became "The Collective" and soon began to incorporate performance art into its repertoire with Neil Howe as the artistic director and Greg Riddell as the music director after Ken Guntar moved to Sydney in 1979.
From 1978 to 1981 The Collective was very actively producing and presenting new music and performance art events at many academic institutions and art galleries around Victoria. The performances by the Collective were usually live multimedia events incorporating elements of new music composition directed by Greg Riddell, performance incorporating the main members of the Collective and occasional guest performers, experimental film and early video art created by Neil Howe, with Howe directing the overall performance aesthetic. After 1982 the main members of the group, Neil Howe, music composer Greg Riddell, and poet/percussionist Ian McBryde, formed a contemporary music group called The Dance with Michael Jordan on drums and Chico Henderson on bass and started performing at popular pub and nightclub venues around Melbourne.
In 1982 Howe was invited to exhibit some early video art pieces, used in these performance events, at the Rosslyn Oxely 9 Gallery in Sydney and later after buying his first Amiga computer, began to create video and computer art regularly exhibiting these in video and fringe arts festivals in Australia. At about this time the Collective ceased performing but the principle members maintain the core idea of the collective and sometimes come together to work on a joint project. In the spirit of the Collective, Howe often collaborates with artist friends Kevin Mortensen and Stelarc adding a dimension like sound or video to their work.
Through the late 80's and early 90's Neil Howe worked as a video editor in broadcast television, first in news then drama and finally with a national daily current affairs program. After working all through the first Gulf War he left television and travelled extensively throughout Europe and USA. Through the 90's Howe continued to work with computers and video technology and with the development of high resolution digital cameras was able to develop the "Bodyscape" series of images (ie landscapes of the human body and its social condition) first exhibited in March 2000.
SELECTED EXHIBITIONS - NEIL HOWE
1978 Mildura Sculpture Triennial, student section.
1978 Co-formed the performance art group The Collective.
1979 Performance event, "More Mediocre Melodies", Preston Performance Festival, Pitspace Gallery,Bundoora.
1979-80 Performance events by The Collective at Melba Hall, Melbourne University, Latrobe University, RMIT Arts Festival, RMIT Gallery, Deakin University, Geelong, Swinburne Institute Technology, Caulfield Institute of Technology, Caf'e Theodore, Sydney, plus five commissioned outdoor performances for the Moomba Festival, Melbourne presented in collaboration with 'Community Celebrations'.
1979 Tina Wentcher Sculpture Exhibition, AMP Centre, Melbourne.
1980 "Prahran Sculptors", Adrian Brandt Gallery, Melbourne.
1981 First Australian Sculpture Triennial, Melbourne.
1981 Performance event "Ego is an Arty Word", Niagra Gallery, Melbourne.
1981 Performance event, "Diallage of a Documenting Doctrinaire", RMIT Performance Festival, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne.
1981 "Untitled", sculpture exhibition, McCormack Gallery, Melbourne.
1982 Video exhibition, Rosslyn Oxely 9 Gallery, Sydney.
1983 Performance event, "Ern Malley is on the Dole", Melbourne Fringe Arts Festival.
1985 "Sculpture 85", group sculpture exhibition, Melbourne Exhibition Centre.
1985 Video exhibition, Melbourne Fringe Arts Festival.
1985 Solo painting exhibition, Mills Street Gallery, Melbourne.
1985 Mornington Peninsula Sculpture Prize, Mornington Art Gallery.
1986 Sculpture exhibition, St Kilda Arts Festival, Linden Art Gallery, Melbourne.
1986 Created sound environment for "Kinetic Sunrise", performance by Kevin Mortensen, Alexander Theatre, Monash University.
1986 Video exhibition, Adelaide Fringe Arts Festival, Adelaide.
1987 Created sound environment for a multimedia theatre event by Peter Summerfeld and Kevin Mortensen, "Why People Go to Traffic Accidents", Theatreworks, St Kilda.
1988 First Australian Video Festival, Sydney.
1989 Second Australian Video Festival, Sydney.
1989 Created live video synthesized wall for Stelarc's "Event for Video Shadow, Automatic Arm and Third Hand", Glen Eira City Arts Complex, Melbourne.
1991 Travelled extensively around Europe and the USA
1994 Sound environment and videography for performance by Kevin Mortensen, Geelong wetlands.
1998 Sound environment and videography for"Display of the Bird King", performance by Kevin Mortensen, Lake Burley Griffon, Canberra and exhibition at Canberra School of Art
2000 "Bodyscapes ", solo exhibition of digital images, the Photographers Gallery, Sth Yarra.
2000 Sound environment and videography of "Limnophilous Longirostral", performance by Kevin Mortensen, Noosa, Qld. Exhibition of digital images and sound installation, Noosa Regional Art Gallery, Tewantan, Qld.
2002 "Pixxelpoint", international group exhibition of digital art, Metna Gallery, Nova Gorica, Slovenia.
2002 International group exhibition of digital art, Foundation Fita, Catalonia, Spain
2003 "Bodyscapes II", solo exhibition of digital images, the Photographers Gallery, Sth Yarra.
2003 "Bid for Freedom", group exhibition, Glen Eira City Art Gallery, Melbourne.
2004 "Postcards", group exhibition, Linden Gallery, Melbourne.
2004 "Bid for Freedom 2", group exhibition, Glen Eira City Art Gallery, Melbourne.
2004 "Memorial for the Victims of Terror", group web exhibition, New York, USA.
2004 "Diesel-New-Art", group web exhibition, Copenhagen, Denmark.
2004 Group exhibition, Kinross House Art Centre, Melbourne.
2005 “Bid for Freedom 3”, group exhibition, Glen Eira City Art Gallery, Melbourne.
2005 “Diesel New Art”, group web exhibition, Copenhagen, Denmark.
2005 “D-Art”, group exhibition 9th International Conference of Information Visualization,
Greenwich University, London, UK.
2005 “Bodyscapes III”, solo exhibition, Uniting Arts Toorak.
2005 ‘CyberArts’ Prix Ars Electronica, group exhibition, Linz, Austria
2005 ‘Artists Against Sedition Laws Exhibition’, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Liverpool Regional Museum.
2006 ‘Bid For Freedom 4’, group exhibition, Glen Eira City Art Gallery, Melbourne.
2006 ‘CyberArts’, Prix Ars Electronica, group exhibition, Linz, Austria
2006 ‘Heartspace’, group exhibition, Adelaide Festival Gallery, Adelaide.
2006 ‘Bodyscapes 2000-2006’, solo survey exhibition, Brunswick St. Gallery, Fitzroy.
2006 ‘Thirteen – Portrait of a Teenager’, solo exhibition & book launch, Uniting Arts Toorak,
2006 ‘Changing Nature’, Greenpeace group exhibition, The Gallery in Darling Park, Sydney,
2006 ‘Genesis’, Rooftop Film Festival, New York, USA
2007 ‘Techno-art’, group exhibition, Lapart, Wallspace Gallery, Brisbane.
2007 ‘Piemonte Share Festival, group IT exhibition, Torino, Italy
2007 ‘Global Warming Show’, group exhibition, Asylum Gallery, Sacramento, USA
2007 ‘International Postcard Show,’ group exhibition, Circa Magazine, Dublin Ireland
2007 ‘Snap to the Grid’, group exhibition, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Los Angeles, USA
2007 ‘Digital Fringe, group web exhibition, Melbourne Fringe Arts Festival.
2007 Video Art Festival, group exhibition with Kevin Mortensen, City of Dandenong, Melbourne.
2008 Magmart International Videoart Festival, Casoria Contemporary Art Museum, Naples, Italy
2008 “Who Let the Dogs Out”, group exhibition with Kevin Mortensen, Lake Maquarie City Art
2008 ‘Bid 4 Freedom;, group exhibition, Glen Eira City Art Gallery, Melbourne.
2008 ‘Weep Leviathan’, Collingwood Gallery, Melbourne.
2008 ‘Arte Bogota 08’, group exhibition, Bogota, Columbia
2008 Stock show, group exhibition, United Arts Toorak, Melbourne.
2008 ‘ruMAD’, group exhibition, Kingston Arts Centre Gallery, Melbourne.
2008 ‘FocFest’, international film festival, Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, Yerevan, Armenia.
2008 ‘FocFest’ international film festival, Fabrica do Braco de Prata, Lisbon, Portugal and Istanbul, Turkey.
2009 “Human Emotion Project”, international group exhibition, Guildford Lane Gallery, Melbourne.
2009 “Best of Focfest”, broadcast on Transfera TV, Spain.
2009 “Human Emotion Project”, international group exhibition, Garden of the Ceramic Museum (State Museum), Caldas-da-Rainha, Lisbon, Portugal.
2009 'Art for Peace International Art Action', group exhibition, Dolmabahce Art Gallery (State Gallery) and Fotografevi (Istanbul Photography Centre), Istanbul, Turkey.
2010 'HEP Poland', group exhibition, Parakino, CSW Bath, Gdansk, Poland
2010 'AUSThetic', group exhibition, Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia
2010 'ArtFelt', group exhibition, Northern Rivers Community Art Gallery, Ballina, Australia
2010 'HEP Paris', group exhibition, Galerie Younique, Paris, France.
2010 'Program 45', international video art broadcast, Transfera TV, Madrid, Spain
2010 'HEP Iran', Mohsen Art Gallery and Sazmanab Project, Tehran, Iran
2010 ' Shapes of Peace', international group exhibition, W-AFPIAA, Peace Week, Sanski, Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina
2010 'Tuyap Art Fair', international group exhibition, W-AFPIAA, Istanbul, Turkey
1981 “Performance, Then & Now in Australia”. Art Network. issue 3 & 4.
1983 “Live Art” ed Jane Kent & Anne Marsh.
1984 “Sculpture Park: A Proposal”, Australia Council for the Arts.
1993 “Body & Self” by Anne Marsh, Oxford University Press.
2004 “Rayograph”, Man Ray special edition, UQ Vanguard, March edition.
2005 Exhibition preview, Melbourne Times, Fairfax Press.
2005 Exhibition preview, Heidelberg Weekly.
2006 Exhibition preview, Melbourne Times, Fairfax Press.
2006 Exhibition preview, Heidelberg Weekly, Fairfax Press.
2006 ‘Thirteen – Portrait of a Teenager’, Neil Howe, InkLink Press.
2009 'Ern Malley. The Hoax and Beyond", by David Rainey, Heide Museum of Modern Art.
2009 'HEP Portugal', Momente Magazine, May issue.
2009 'Idiosynchronism', by Nic Costa, Arteri Magazine, Nov issue.
1980 Powell Street Gallery Sculpture Prize.
1981 Australia Council for the Arts research grant.
1984 Australia Council for the Arts publishing grant.
2009 Janet Holmes a Court artist grant, NAVA
Numerous private collections in Australia, USA , RSA, Sth America and Europe.
National Film & Sound Archive, Australia.
State Library of Victoria.
National Library of Australia.
Queensland State Library